A fist fight that defies the laws of physics, electrical implants at the base of the spine, and now a sweet older black lady with the ability to see into the future (who people just happen to call the Oracle). Fringe has officially completed the Wachowski trifecta with this most recent episode.
Parallels to the Matrix aside this latest Fringe episode seems to take the first few steps in putting this final season back on track. Even though Fringe is always shrouded in some kind of mystery, the show has been lacking in story direction for the last few episodes and "The Human Kind" seems to act as a course correct for it all. But before I go into all of that I'll quickly recap the episode.
"The Human Kind" opens with Olivia meeting up with Anil and getting a piece of Observer tech for Walter to study. With everyone worried about the repercussions of Peter's new self, Walter and Astrid put aside getting the next piece of the plan to figure out how damaging of an effect the device is having on Peter's brain. Unable to reason with Peter, or help with the diagnostic of the tech, Olivia goes after the next piece of the plan solo. Olivia encounters a woman with the gift of abnormal foresight into the future while acquiring a giant sized magnet as the next piece in the plan. All the while Peter continues his revenge plans against Windmark, regardless on the costs.
This episode felt short, almost like a half episode. That's not saying nothing went on in it but for the most part it was your typical TV bridging episode. Meaning they get a bunch on the little things out of the way in one episode so the following week can spend more time moving forward, rather than giving explanations for the bulk of the episode. Here in "The Human Kind" they split these duties among Olivia and Peter's separate stories.
Olivia's stuff between this new Oracle type character named Simone was puzzling at times. I couldn't tell if the show was introducing her to for future episodes down the line or just for Olivia's benefit on helping her work through her problems with Peter. In any case Simone's hint/mention of Olivia's bullet in her pocket played out in a pretty cool way after Olivia is captured. Earlier in the episode you could see billboards and electronic posters in the background of wanted bounties on the Fringe team and two guys try to cash in Olivia for the reward. Torv goes a little MacGyver during her escape by using, or rather re-using, 'the bullet that saved the world' again but its purpose had a more important effect later in the episode with Peter.
Peter's multiple time-line chess match against Windmark came to face-to-face blows finally in this episode. For the most part it looked like Peter was slowing getting the upper hand on Windmark, even after the fought each other. That fight sequence by the way was actually extremely well. Film calibre stunts and effects, one of the best I've seen for TV for a while. Anyways, after Walter and Astrid can't through to Peter about the Observer tech killing his humanity for good the use Olivia and her bullet story to pull emotion back into him. I'm glad the show had Peter remove the tech from himself because if it went on much longer it would start making less and less sense considering his revenge wouldn't be motivated by emotions after they would be gone.
I try not to question the odd decisions Fringe's show-runners tend to take over the last four seasons because I'm always amazing how great those weird choices are ultimately turned into strong story arcs. The last couple of episodes I've been biting my tongue and hoping certain story-lines don't go on for much longer; and for the most part they haven't. Maybe it's because it's a shortened season and/or the fact its also Fringe's final season but Walter's inner conflict about becoming his old self just seems like a waste of time compared to the grand scheme of things. Character struggle is all well and great when telling the middle of a story but with only six episodes remaining I hope the conclusion is given its due over Walter's inner demons. Again, like I said I'll just have to bit my tongue and hope every remaining story, small or large, is an important piece of the puzzle.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.